Start your Raspberry Pi software collection

Attentive readers of our forum may have seen our friend Vgrade, who has been doing development on one of the alpha boards, post a video of a little distribution he built on Mer, with QtCreator (which is indeed cute) installed, a couple of days ago. Mer’s light footprint makes it ideal for use on the Raspberry Pi, and you may have seen some of the Qt demos we’ve been showcasing on this blog. With this package (all open source, of course) you’ll be able to use the Raspberry Pi to write software in Qt and QML.

Vgrade has just released the files on his website with installation instructions (scroll to the bottom of his post for the download). If you’ve got an SD card going spare at home, you might want to copy these files to it and get your Raspberry Pi distro library off to a good start before we ship next month.


Tom Mann avatar

A pre-thanks to Vgrade and Raspi for the heads-up. I will do this tonight!

Ruby avatar

Will you guys be selling SD cards in your shop? I don’t have any spare SD cards kicking about right now, but would happily order one or two when I’m buying my Pi.

liz avatar

We will, yes, but when we ship the product itself. We have to be quite careful about the merch we offer before we ship; selling much besides stickers before we sell the Raspi itself opens us up to accusations of being a vapourware scam, so we’re waiting until we have hardware to fully open the shop so we can be seen to be above-board.

alisdairv avatar

Is there any further info yet on SD card support to add to that found in dom’s post here: ?

liz avatar

Not yet, but we’ll have it for you before we launch.

Petr avatar

We have been purchasing CF cards for our projects from
This manufacturer was recommended to us by and the quality is great.

I am not connected to PC Engines nor with Data Power company.
I am just pointing to reliable and good quality source of the SD cards which can be used for Raspberrypi project.



jojopi avatar

The FAT partition in the image is empty, so how is it supposed to boot ?

vgrade avatar

I’ve uploaded a zip of the dos part files and updated the README.

I’ve had also had a request for an image which fits 2GB cards so I will make a single image with the dos-part-files at the same time


TylerD avatar

Can’t wait to start making games now!

vgrade avatar

oops, wrong image, i’ll fix that, sorry

vgrade avatar

fixed, new files uploded

eggn1n3 avatar

Thanks, let me try.

eggn1n3 avatar

What’s the size of SD card I need. It does not seem to fit on a 2Gb card:

root@laptop:/home/me# dd if=meego-mer-QtDesktop-armv6hl-Pi- of=/dev/sdb
dd: writing `/dev/sdb’: No space left on device
3948544+1 records in
3948544+0 records out
2021654528 bytes (2.0 GB) copied, 667.135 s, 3.0 MB/s

vgrade avatar

I can make an image to fit 2GB I think ,

Watch this space

tnelsond avatar

It’s too bad all my favorite programs are in Gtk+ and not Qt.

How much overhead is there in having a system provide both?

vgrade avatar

There may be other distros targeting Gtk+, Mer is not one of them.

eggn1n3 avatar

So the DOS partition contains the actual RaspberryPi files (Debian)?

cnxsoft avatar

It’s not Debian, but Mer based on Meego.
It looks like the DOS partition contains the kernel, the GPU blob (start.elf), some boot code, a driver and some vll files (I don’t know what they are).

The rootfs would be in the other partition.

Mike Inman avatar

Hey, if an “official distro” is coming together, I’l like to put in a vote to include Scratch ( ) on there – my kids are 8 and 10 years old, so Scratch is a bit more accessible to them than Qt (Glad to see Qt there too, I use it almost daily at work.)

liz avatar

No need to vote – Scratch is definitely something we’ll be pointing people at!

Mike Field avatar

Excellent. I’ve started the downloads now… a “big thumbs up” for this.

A discussion point for future… we should all be making it easy for Windows users to get started on Raspberry Pi. One suggestion would be to avoid “tar” “bz” and “gzip” file formats – they require quite a bit of depth in experience to get started (i.e. what do I need to “unzip” a bz file on Windows?

It would be a lot easier to get on the learning curve if the files were “zip”s and the image file a “[whatever]”.

Also a link to (pretty much a GUI “dd” for Windows) in the readme would be helpful for noobies who are using Dad’s Windows laptop.

vgrade avatar

ok point taken. will add a zip version soon

DaVince avatar

Tarballs (bz2 and gzipped files) can be extracted with any decent file extraction tool in Windows, though. At least 7-zip can do it. So no, not much in-depth experience is needed.

But I do see it could be a problem.

dattaway avatar

Just don’t make it too “Windows friendly.” Some of us have been on the GNU side of the fence for decades, eating and breathing tasty tarballs, and find fat partitions strange and unpalatable.

vinceAPPLE avatar


Yes, i was wondering if the ARCHlinuxARM is ok to use?. It seems like an ideal
distro for RP and has the instuctions here on the forum.

I am a bit confused about which packages you could install from the Arch Repo?
The Repo has 9300 packages but in the first column here it stipulates the archictecture of CPU that each package can be used on.

i presume if it says “any” then it means the package will work on ARM cpu’s
but x86 stuff won’t right?



DeliciousRaspberryCake avatar

As a non-programmer, I don’t understand a single thing from this news article. Which does worry me. The last thing I’d want to see is the raspi slowly falling into the deep reaches of the programming community, incomprehensible to the average internet user. I can’t even imagine kids understanding this article without previous knowledge of Mer, Qt and QML…

Burngate avatar

Dear DeliciousRaspberryCake: you’re not alone.
I don’t understand a lot of what is said on many of the threads in the Forum, and nor will an 11-year-old who’s just opened the box on Christmas day.
But it *will* work out of the box. And then he/she will discover that it is using —- version of Linux. And that there are other versions, and that something called Mer exists, and he can download it and use it.
So without noticing, he/she’s got on the learning curve.
What we have here is a person who’s giving us all a leg-up onto that curve.
I’m sure the curve will seem less steep when the Pi is out in the wild.

liz avatar

Don’t worry – the educational launch is planned for next year, and it’ll come with a shiny new website aimed at non-programmers, as well as plenty of supporting materials for teachers and students.

meltwater avatar

Yep I am lost too, but the easy steps should come with time.

For now it would be handy if there are some beginner instructions on setting up and running an emulated version of the R-Pi so us novice users can have a try too (i.e. an easy to swallow all in one package).

I’m sure if the more knowledgeable users can give us a leg-up we can then help other beginners. Compiling kernels, and magic command-line settings are a bit of an unknown to us noobs, and even if we get something working, we wouldn’t know if it is suitable for the R-Pi or not.

jamesh avatar

The vast majority of people using a Raspi will never need to recompile the kernel, so that should be one source of pain gone away!

With Linux you are never far from the command line though – and that does require decent help – but everything you need is already out there. The Raspi is JALB (Just Another Linux Box), so *almost* anything you do on one device would be applicable to the Raspi.

As for emulation – that is, actually, a long winded and sometimes painful process, so I’ve never tried to do it!

meltwater avatar

I’ve dabbled in linux but hopefully will be able to get by with just getting my feet wet. Most basic things are solved by a quick google, its the r-pi specific stuff I’ll have issues with resolving myself.

Managed to find some info on the emulation side and pre-built image files (hidden away in the forum), will link to them here if I have any luck with them. Ideally will have an emulator setup to be just like the R-pi release builds which will help with experimenting, I think the images I am downloading are just general distro builds, but even that is a start.

raffy avatar

Most Linuxes can be installed to Flash card. In Puppy Linux, for example, there are only 3 files used to boot the system, the kernel (vmlinuz), the initial boot image (initrd.gz), and the compressed filesystem (pup.sfs). And because the total size of files is only a bit over 100 MB ( see Racy as an example), it makes a time-saving toy for learning Linux.

But in Linux land, choice is ever important, so eager users should disregard what I just said and go to and start playing. :-)

Pablo avatar

Is it possible to boot this image in a qemu VM?
(or any other free VM that can run ARM)

Any pointers? I can go thru the entire meego building infrastructure, but perhaps there is anything simpler to start testing this?

By the way, thanks for sharing!

meltwater avatar

I’ve not tested this yet (I forgot to get my files off my server after downloading last night ~1.5Gb each)…
See emercer’s post “Emulating a RasPi on Windows”:

Contains prebuilt images and qemu setup to run similar ARM setup to the R-Pi. I don’t know how to use Vgrade’s images though (will see when I’ve experimented some more), that would be better since it seems that they may be closer to the official release.

[…] Start your Raspberry Pi software collection | Raspberry Pi Mer's light footprint makes it ideal for use on the Raspberry Pi, and you may have seen some of the Qt demos we've been showcasing on this blog. With this package (all open source, of course) you'll be able to use the … Source: […]

JamesC avatar

I definitely concur that this project is a very good thing and will help pay forward the required skills of our future generations.

The hardware approach is astounding and I’m sure that’s the right price point for schools and 3rd world developing countries.

My only concern is that software delivery to engage students with programming in education doesn’t seem to be clear yet based on the forum details I’ve read.

I agree Scratch is a good starter for under 10s, QT for mainstream development but I would suggest there needs to be something in the middle. Not sure what that is but I’m sure someone will work it out. I would suggest Basic but that seems ancient, there most be a successor!

liz avatar

Hi James

That’s right, and it’s why we’re not attempting the educational launch until next year, when the Raspberry Pi has been available to software developers for a while (before launch, only 50 alpha boards have been out in the wild) and a deck for schools has been built. There’s work going on behind the scenes at the moment to produce learning materials here in the UK (which is where we’ll be concentrating on for the first while; we’re familiar with the school system here), alongside some software ports which I can’t enlarge on until they’re done, but which we expect to be really attractive to kids.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation makes the hardware, and works to make it available to as many kids as possible. It’s really down to schools and Government to build a curriculum, and there’s a lot of work being done on that at the moment; we’re in talks with more than one Government department, and the Computers at Schools guys are working their fingers to the bone on supporting materials. We’re keen to make sure that everything is open source, which means that the community is far more involved and that the model is very different from computer education as we’ve seen it up to now. We rely on people like you to get involved and talk about what you think should be on offer – drop into our forums and join in!

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